For half an hour Joan worked over him, talking to him all the time, and fondling him with her soft hands. She bathed his wounds in warm water, and then covered them with a healing salve, and Kazan was filled again with that old restful desire to remain with her always, and never to go back into the forests. For an hour she let him lie on the edge of her dress, with his nose touching her foot, while she worked on baby things. Then she rose to prepare supper, and Kazan got up—a little wearily—and went to the door. Gray Wolf and the gloom of the night were calling him, and he answered that call with a slouch of his shoulders and a drooping head. Its old thrill was gone. He watched his chance, and went out through the door. The moon had risen when he rejoined Gray Wolf. She greeted his return with a low whine of joy, and muzzled him with her blind face. In her helplessness she looked happier than Kazan in all his strength.
From now on, during the days that followed, it was a last great fight between blind and faithful Gray Wolf and the woman. If Joan had known of what lay in the thicket, if she could once have seen the poor creature to whom Kazan was now all life—the sun, the stars, the moon, and food—she would have helped Gray Wolf. But as it was she tried to lure Kazan more and more to the cabin, and slowly she won.
At last the great day came, eight days after the fight on the Sun Rock. Kazan had taken Gray Wolf to a wooded point on the river two days before, and there he had left her the preceding night when he went to the cabin. This time a stout babiche thong was tied to the collar round his neck, and he was fastened to a staple in the log wall. Joan and her husband were up before it was light next day. The sun was just rising when they all went out, the man carrying the baby, and Joan leading him. Joan turned and locked the cabin door, and Kazan heard a sob in her throat as they followed the man down to the river. The big canoe was packed and waiting. Joan got in first, with the baby. Then, still holding the babiche thong, she drew Kazan up close to her, so that he lay with his weight against her.
The sun fell warmly on Kazan’s back as they shoved off, and he closed his eyes, and rested his head on Joan’s lap. Her hand fell softly on his shoulder. He heard again that sound which the man could not hear, the broken sob in her throat, as the canoe moved slowly down to the wooded point.
Joan waved her hand back at the cabin, just disappearing behind the trees.
“Good-by!” she cried sadly. “Good-by—” And then she buried her face close down to Kazan and the baby, and sobbed.
The man stopped paddling.
“You’re not sorry—Joan?” he asked.
They were drifting past the point now, and the scent of Gray Wolf came to Kazan’s nostrils, rousing him, and bringing a low whine from his throat.
“You’re not sorry—we’re going?” Joan shook her head.